Do you have just one day free to explore the city that never sleeps? Don’t fret! Instead of feeling daunted by your lack of time, here are some fun stops to help you make the most of it!
Faced with just twelve hours, Gala and I managed to hit 15 spots, from restaurants to landmarks to parties. Here’s what we did — and while some of it might not be your cup of tea, hopefully it will inspire you to have your own little adventure the next time you find yourself in New York City.
Gala made a little video of our day and I compiled a list with links and addresses of the places we visited below:
1. Clinton Street Baking Co.
4 Clinton St.
Going strong since 2001, this Lower East Side restaurant is home to some of the best baked goods around. New York Magazine voted their blueberry pancakes the best in the city but I stuck with an egg white omelet which was equally delicious. Expect a wait.
2. Henri Bendel
712 Fifth Avenue
The ultimate accessories mecca, this department store has been around since 1895 and is the height of sophistication. From bangles to handbags to ridiculous hats, Henri Bendel has you covered. Trust me, you’ll be tempted to try on 10 gaudy Elizabeth Taylor-inspired rings at once just because you can.
3. Bergdorf Goodman
754 5th Ave.
Are you craving a stop at a luxury department store where the staff is remarkably down to earth, even if you’re not actually buying anything? Bergdorf’s is for you. I was blown away by how friendly everyone was and even better? This marbled behemoth is home to the world’s most expensive perfume. Really. The lady holding down the Clive Christian counter cornered us, told us the most exquisite story (all great perfumes need a good story, after all), let us sample the scent and even pulled out a black fan to dry my freshly doused wrist. The whole experience was over the top and ridiculously fabulous in a Liberace sort of way.
597 5th Ave.
When you’re exploring the city at the height of summer and your skin is feeling parched, Sephora is the ideal stop to sample some new, luxurious moisturizers that aren’t in your budget. And boy, did we lather up!
5. J. Crew Collection
1035 Madison Ave.
I enjoyed stopping into this small yet immaculate J. Crew boutique and checking out the craftsmanship and materials of its higher end collection up-close. I loved their take on the classics, like a buttery soft biker jacket done up in navy blue. And, the design of their print materials at the register are always spot-on.
6. Kate Spade Flagship
789 Madison Ave.
A four story townhouse on the Upper East Side, this place is pure fun. Even if you’re not in the mood to shop, the neon sign on the ground floor (which includes tongue-in-cheek clichés like “Uptown is the New Downtown,” “Only in Manhattan,” “Let’s Grab Cocktails” and more), uplifting sayings emblazoned on mirrors and wacky decor will inspire you to snap photo after photo.
7. Solange Azagury-Partridge
809 Madison Ave.
Quite possibly the most innovative, creative jeweler out there, Solange knows no boundaries. I’ve been a fan of her Hotlips collection for ages and seeing her boutique in person, complete with the custom designed rainbow carpet (wowza!) made me an even bigger fan. She is a true artist.
8. Central Park
14 East 60th St.
Every time I’ve visited Central Park, I’ve walked through a different entrance and had a completely different experience — and that’s the beauty of the place. At a mind-boggling 843 acres, there’s always something new to see depending on the path that you take. I love the variety of scenery within the park. From a castle to a zoo to a pond to a meadow, this place has it all.
9. The Plaza Food Hall
Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
One of the most opulent hotels in Manhattan, The Plaza is legendary. But the true gem is tucked away in the basement, way past the grand entrance. The food hall, which was opened in 2010, truly has something for everyone. There are counters with sweets, sandwiches, soups, juices, coffee and every culinary confection in between. Gala and I had soup, salad and fresh juice at Tartine and it was beyond delicious.
10. Top Of The Rock Observation Deck
30 Rockefeller Plaza
I’ll admit that I thought this was going to be a total tourist trap — and for that reason, I’d avoided it at all costs during my previous trips to New York. But, on a whim, we gave it a go. And, honestly? It was worth the $29.00 ticket fee to see this 360 degree view of the city, 70 stories up. Do it at least once. You won’t regret it.
11. The Smith Photo Booth
55 Third Ave.
The Smith has awesome food but I’ll be honest — my real draw to the place is that it has one of the city’s best photo booths in its basement. This isn’t a cheesy digital booth, either — it’s the old school black and white kind. And at just $3.00 a strip, you’re bound to get carried away with swiping your debit card (or, at least I did).
12. Big Gay Ice Cream
125 East 7th St.
A hot day in the city requires a mandatory ice cream stop. And there’s no doubt that Big Gay will have you rethinking soft-serve. I’d heard rave reviews about the Salty Pimp but ended up going with the Bea Arthur, which is hand-dipped in crushed Nilla wafers. Yum!
13. Upper East Side Mansion Party
When you receive an invite to view Ted Baker’s latest collection inside of a beautiful mansion, you say yes! What I love most about New York is that in the span of a day, anything is possible. This event featured a live jazz band, dancing flapper girls and piles of disco balls. Amazing.
14. Grand Central Station
89 E. 42nd St.
This landmark is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world and has a mind boggling 44 platforms for rail travel. Even if you’re not grabbing a train though, there are tons of shops and restaurants across its two stories that are worth visiting. I love the astronomy-covered ceiling in the main concourse.
15. Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse NYC
23 Vanderbilt Ave.
With tired feet and empty bellies, Gala and I circled around the Grand Central Terminal in search of a late dinner. We came upon this ex-NBA star’s restaurant, complete with sweeping views of the main concourse. Between the great view, spot-on service and a fantastic three-course meal, we were glad we made the stop, even though it was slightly unexpected.
So, there you go. New York City in a day! When I set out on an adventure with Gala at 10 am, I had no idea where the day would take me. I actually think those are the best kinds of days when you’re visiting a city, don’t you? Throw your plans out the window and just see what happens. Here’s to many more adventures!
Photos and video: Shauna Haider and Gala Darling.